Mentor brings new perspectives
She is an expert in sales and marketing, with experience from founding several companies, and scaling both private and public businesses. As one of the members of KTH Innovation's mentor network, Lina Tjerneld helps KTH researchers bring their research results to market.
Lina Tjerneld’s career started on the other side of the Atlantic, where she worked in marketing departments of several large software companies.
- From the start, I was schooled in creating demand, classifying leads and working together with sales teams, says Lina. I have always been interested in business and entrepreneurship, and when I started my own companies, I had a great foundation to build from.
Outside of a researcher's everyday life
As a member of KTH Innovation’s mentor network, Lina Tjerneld has mentored one researcher slash aspiring entrepreneur from KTH: Oskar Törnblom, a KTH researcher and founder of the digital organizational development platform Ordeca. In individual meetings, Lina and her mentee have discussed issues that usually fall outside of the everyday life of a KTH researcher, like how best to contact potential customers, how decision-making processes work in sales, and how to conduct a good meeting that turns interest to business.
- The aim is not for the mentee to become a marketing professional, but for them to get slightly better, and maybe most importantly to get a better idea of what they need to look for in other people who can join the team.
Specialist in sales and marketing
Today, Lina Tjerneld works as a specialist in sales and marketing, with a focus on digitization. She is one of the founders of the Smarkit group, where she runs several companies. Lina Tjerneld is also a private investor, and has just invested in Sustainlab, a company founded by a KTH researcher.
- I'm not an engineer, so I have to say I was a bit nervous when I applied to become a mentor. Then I realized that is exactly why I should join. I know things that researchers at KTH generally do not, and that is how I can contribute.
Toward a common goal
In the program, KTH Innovation matches researchers at KTH with experienced mentors. The pairs work towards a common goal: to enable more technology from KTH to benefit people outside of the university. The mentors all have a background from the industry or from having founded companies themselves, experiences that are valuable when someone, perhaps for the first time, takes their technology from lab to market.
- In my experience, those who succeed are those who have a good idea, but also those who have the ability to either sell and market their idea themselves, or see that "this is something I’m not good at", and bring in someone to help.
Making the complex simple
Many researchers at KTH work with complex and advanced technology, and it is not always easy to make the technology understandable to someone outside of their field.
- The key thing is to make the solution to the customer’s problem sound really really simple, no matter how complex it actually is. No one wants to buy something that sounds too complicated. Take an iPhone for example. I understand that what the phone does is very difficult, but it is very easy to use. In our mentor meetings, we put a lot of focus on this, how to break down their ideas in concrete terms so that others can understand the value.
Lina Tjerneld finishes:
- Getting a mentor is a unique opportunity to start creating a network and learn from someone who has experience that you don’t, but need. Imagine being able to talk about something that interests you for an hour with someone who is only there to help you move forward, without their own gain.